U.S., Danish Soldiers build interoperability during Brave Lion 15

Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Korte, center, a civil affairs noncommissioned officer with Company B, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th CSC, listens to civilian role players and his Danish interpreter during the Danish army's Civil Military Cooperation Support Team, 2nd Armored Infantry Battalion's NATO Response Force validation and training exercise Brave Lion 15, June 8-19, 2015.

OKSBOL TRAINING AREA, Denmark -- In challenging conditions near the North Sea on the west coast of Denmark with spitting rain and bone-chilling winds, 7th Civil Support Command, or CSC, Soldiers trained together with the Danish army's Civil Military Cooperation, or CIMIC, support team.

The training was part of the Danish army's 2nd Armored Infantry Battalion's NATO Response Force validation and training Exercise Brave Lion 15, June 8-19. 

"Our mission here is to integrate with the Danish CIMIC team," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jerome Smith, a civil affairs noncommissioned officer with Company B, 457th Civil Affairs, or CA, Battalion, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th CSC and a native of Tampa, Florida. 

The units were able to interact and share best practices.

"The CA team, we have been working with here, is very experienced," said Danish army Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Moeller Jensen, 2nd in Command, CIMIC Support Team. 

The goal of CA and CIMIC is to inform the civilian population about what is going on and to help generate support for military operations during a war or disaster response, Jensen said.

The information gathered in meeting with the locals is better when the teams prepare thoroughly, Jensen said. This also helps shorten the time for sending their reports to leadership, so they can understand how the local people are reacting, he said. 

Near the end of Brave Lion 15, the Danish army CIMIC support team also learned about "small talk," or how to improve civilian interactions and meetings with local leaders.

"This has been pretty interesting," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Korte, a civil affairs noncommissioned officer with Company B, 457th CA Battalion, 361st CA Brigade, and a native of El Cerrito, California. "We go out to the different civilians and interact."

The fully-integrated combined CA/CIMIC team met with the real-life mayor of a town near the training site to discuss the real world impacts of Brave Lion 15 on the local population.

"We're interacting with real leadership," Korte said. "This is great training for us."

The key buzzword and goal during the final three days of training was "interoperability." 

"It has been a fantastic opportunity for the U.S. and Danish Soldiers to work together," said Danish army Maj. Klaus Bomgaard, deputy chief of operations, 1st Brigade. 

Joint exercises are essential to interoperability, he said. It is too late to begin coordinating when a war or incident happens, he added. 

"It is the final certification for Denmark's high readiness battle group, [the] 2nd Armored Infantry Battalion, Dragoon Armored Regiment," Bomgaard said. 

The Danish army's 2nd Armored Infantry Battalion will go on a "high-readiness" status as part of the NATO Response Force for six months, July 15, he said. 

Danish army Maj. Gen. Hans Christian Mathiesen, chief of the Danish army staff, also met with Soldiers and observed training during Brave Lion 15. He echoed those sentiments. 

"Interoperability is key for us," he said.

The exercise is a good opportunity for NATO and U.S. Army Europe to build trust and confidence to work together, Mathiesen added.

"It's all about the readiness state of NATO," he said. 

Besides the 7th CSC, several other U.S. Army units, which participated in Brave Lion 15 included 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 30th Medical Brigade and 16th Sustainment Brigade; the 2nd Cavalry Regiment; the 3rd Infantry Division and the U.S. Air Force. 

"For me, it is an amazing experience," Korte said. "It is putting us in situations where everything is real."